News & Notes 682:Funds and Assets Management Committee (FAMC) report for November and December 2016
Funds and Assets Management Committee (FAMC) report for November and December 2016
Members: Amy, Bindu, Chali, Chandresh, Lyle, Prabhu, Stephanie, Ulli, and Yuval
Thank you for your confidence in selecting us to serve the community in accordance with the 2016 Residents Assembly approved FAMC mandate. We were selected on 23 October 2016 and the first two months have been a real whirlwind.
First of all we've been figuring out logistics which included bringing in a new secretary and chairperson. We're pleased to be working alongside Angelo (secretary) and Auralice (chairperson) over the last many weeks. They're an excellent addition to the team. In collaboration with the Town Hall management team we have been provided on a temporary basis part of the L'avenir d'Auroville area on the 2nd Floor in Town Hall for our office. Soon we'll be posting regular hours. We want to meet with you, hear your concerns, and share time together to figure out the best way forward in any given situation and so scheduling several additional, smaller meetings per week is becoming the norm. The twice weekly meetings (Monday afternoons and Thursday mornings) are intense, trying to work through an agenda with upwards of 25 topics every time.
So far we have met with the Budget Coordination Committee, Land Board, Working Committee, Auroville Board of Commerce (ABC), and the interim Town Development Council (iTDC). We would like to meet (requested but not scheduled) with the Auroville Council (AVC), Housing Board, the Auroville Board of Services (ABS), and the Human Resources Team. We have a lot to learn about the aspirations and challenges of each of these working areas and want to explore how we can support, encourage and collaborate to bring more clarity and consistency to our collective processes.
In follow-up to a meeting the former FAMC had with three residents of Promesse community, we met with four residents. Some members of the Land Board were present as well. We wanted to assure the residents that we have no plans to consider for land exchange any part of the residential area of Promesse; the only part of Promesse we're considering is non-residential and is about 3.5 acres. A subgroup is continuing the dialogue with the residents about their questions and concerns.
We've appointed one of our members, Stephanie, to join the Loan group that was reconstituted with effect from 1 November. The other members, for a two year term, are: Otto (Financial Service), Rathinam (Unity Fund), Prabhu (Housing Board), and Palani (ABC support group).
We had a first long-term planning session on 22 December. This took us a while to schedule because we had difficulty securing a team to facilitate the process. We had a productive and meaningful not-quite-full-day with Elvira and Joerg and managed to hash out around 20 objectives and about half again the number of activities. This month we scheduled a follow-up to go deeper into our stated objectives. We'll be seeking the guidance and input from a wide range of working areas once we have clarified the objectives with clear activities, timelines and expected results. Thereafter, probably in February, we will publish the Annual Work Plan in accordance with the mandate.
In accordance with the new mandate we have started to review and discuss how to amend some existing, and create some new, processes so that we have a clear oversight in the following areas:
- A. FAMC approval of budgets, stewardship, and site applications
- B. Increased transparency and accountability in finance and asset management
- C. Monitoring Auroville immoveable asset utilization and transfer
- D. Government of India grant process including allocation and monitoring
- E. Reasonable and allowable expenses of activities
- F. Land use agreements
Each of these naturally includes a thorough review of the current process, and brainstorming sessions on how to improve and streamline them.
In response to the large work flow we have formed subgroups to look into financial management questions at Auroville Transport Service, under ABC Trust, and Pitchandikulam projects, under Auromitra Trust; and to investigate quite serious allegations of financial wrong doing of Auroville Water Harvest, [closed/formerly under CSR Trust] / Auroville Water Service, under Auroville Service Trust; the ongoing construction project of Tamil Heritage Centre, under Bharat Nivas Pavilion of India Trust; and at Inside India, under Inside Trust. Each of these matters requires the commitment of a lot of time and energy and we are working on each one with a lot of care and attention.
You may have noticed that we have started to implement new guidelines or policies:
- A. Guest House Contribution Policy
- B. Approval of existing housing contribution guidelines
- C. No more cash transactions between Auroville units, services, activities (effective 1/1/17)
- D. Auroville eateries contribution changes – percentage on turnover (to go into effect 1/4/17)
Proceeding with the usual Trust and unit-related work, we've approved the creation of three new units:
- A. Artisan Revolution with executives Mirra T., Jane, and Fabien, under Artisana Trust
- B. Italinfood with executives Giorgio, and Gianpietro, under Swagatam Trust
- C. MG Ecoduties with executives Margarita, and Guidelma, under Kattida Kalai Trust
Approved executive changes that were recommended to us by either the ABS or the ABC:
- A. Auroville Architectural Service appointment of Mona, resignation of Sonali
- B. AV Straw appointment of Ilke, resignation of Kumar (Dr.)
- C. Eco Femme without term executive reappointment (after initial 2 year term) of Kathy W. & Jessamijn
- D. Integral Health Services appointment of Linda Grace
- E. Creativity Guest House appointment of Gumsoon, resignation of Juergen K.
- F. AVSLI appointment of Kathy W.
In collaboration with the Working Committee, Trust changes:
- A. Bharat Nivas Pavilion of India Trust, resignation of trustee, Anu
- B. Udavi School Trust, appointment of trustees: Davaselvy, and Sudhir
We have provided feedback to the AVC on some of their works in progress:
- 1. Values Guiding the Collective Life of Auroville document;
- 2. proposed Auroville Appeal Process document;
- 3. Matrimandir publication guidelines and;
- 4. Auroville Learning Activities (ALA) guidelines.
One general point we've shared with the AVC is that any policy concerning finance or assets needs to be formulated in close collaboration with the FAMC.
Concerning Trusts and units, we have reviewed:
- 1. the proposed scope of activities that may be registered under the Hospitality Trust (pending registration on input from Mr. Chunkath on Trust and Unit Regulations document);
- 2. the former FAMC subgroup update concerning the situation at Imagination, a unit under Auroville Exports Trust and;
- 3. a request to appoint two additional executives at Swagatam Guest House, under Bharat Nivas Pavilion of India Trust.
In the area of housing, we reviewed:
- 1. a request for a resident's relocation from Felicity;
- 2. deliberated on and advised concerning a question about stewardship in the forest;
- 3. reviewed a refund request which cited a policy and this was the first case;
- 4. reviewed a proposal from the Housing Board about the existing fraternal contribution when an Aurovilian or Newcomer first becomes a housing steward and;
- 5. approved a Housing Board proposed update to the housing contribution schedule that had not been changed since July 2014. Some of us also visited Promesse community to check on the state of houses there and listen to concerns of the residents.
At the end of this reporting period we are still reviewing a long standing question concerning the boundary of the Bamboo Centre activity operating under the unit Mohanam, with unit executive, Balu, along with members of the Farm group.
Moving towards the future...
Amy, Bindu, Chali, Chandresh, Lyle, Prabhu, Stephanie, Ulli, and Yuval